With six games left in the regular season, and four games on last week’s schedule, the Walleye needed a good effort to ensure a spot in the Kelly Cup playoffs. I guess the effort was there, but thank the lort the teams behind the Walleye had even less.
Toledo Walleye 3, Evansville IceMen 0
Kent Simpson was in net for the for the Walleye last Wednesday, opposed by the IceMen’s James Reid. Both goalies posted a shutout in the first period, with Simpson & Reid stopping 13 and 8 shots respectively.
The scoring started just 1:46 into the second period, when Randy Rowe deflected a shot off an Evansville defenseman for this 13th of the year. Willie Coetzee added his team-leading 25th goal of the year just 1:14 later, and the Walleye headed into the third period with a two-goal lead.
Despite 10 shots and two power plays, the IceMen weren’t able to crack Simpson in the final twenty minutes. Trevor Parkes added an empty-net goal with 37 seconds left in regulation to secure the win. Toledo led in shots for the game 43(!!) to 26. This was Simpson’s second shutout of the season.
Toledo Walleye 4, Kalamazoo Wings 1
Friday night’s game in K-Zoo featured Kent Simpson again in net for Toledo against Wings netminder Joel Martin. The scoring started early, when Joey Martin wristed the puck past Joel Martin (confused?) to give the Walleye a lead just 1:32 into the game. Tyler Brenner put a rebound past Martin at 10:09 to give the Walleye a 2-0 lead. The Walleye had 17 shots in the first twenty minutes.
We’ll just call the remainder of the game the Willie Coetzee show – he scored his 26th and 27th goals of the year at 14:31 of the second and 3:48 of the third respectively. The Wings’ Mitch Versteeg (Kris’s brother) scored at 14:18 to break Toledo’s shutout bid – U TRIED BRO. K-Zoo outshot the Walleye 34-33, but it was Toledo who left town with two points.
With this win, the Walleye needed just 2 points the rest of the weekend to clinch a playoff berth. More on that later…
Reading Royals 3, Toledo Walleye 1
Things started out ok for the Walleye in this game against the Eastern Division leading Royals. After one period, the game was scoreless, with Kent Simpson stopping all 13 Reading shots. Unfortunately the Walleye got 2 SOGs all period. TWO.
Things went south quickly in the second. Nikita Kashirsky scored 3:30 into the period to give the Royals a 1-0 lead. At 5:33, Toledo defenseman Cody Lampl was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for kneeing – he also was later suspended for Sunday’s game. On the ensuing 5-minute power play, Yannick Tifu scored to give Reading a 2-goal lead after two periods.
Kashirsky scored his second of the night 2:50 into the third to basically ice the game for the Royals. Willie Coetzee scored his 28th goal of the year while on the power play late in the period, but it was all for naught. Toledo mustered just 16 shots the entire game. Yeesh.
Reading Royals 2, Toledo Walleye 0
Mel is lazy, watch the “highlights”
The important thing to note is that even though the Walleye failed to get a single point in their final two games this week, they still clinched a playoff spot. How? Even though the Kalamazoo Wings won against the IceMen Saturday night (thanks Evansville), they only managed a single point in a shootout loss to the Wheeling Nailers on Sunday. Therefore, the Walleye have a 6-point lead with only 3 games remaining for the Wings, with Toledo holding the tiebreaker. THANKS K-ZOO!
Kelly Cup Playoff Scenarios:
At the end of Sunday’s games, here are the standings in the Eastern Conference (we’re ignoring the West because they suck):
All of the playoff spots in the Eastern Conference are now set – all that’s left is the seeding. As it stands, if the Walleye win their final two regular season games, they could finish as high as 5th in the conference. Unfortunately, Florida (4 games left) and Greenville (3 games left) all have games in hand over Toledo, giving them a better shot at a higher seed. If teams are tied in points, the first tiebreaker is wins excluding shootouts. Seeing as the Walleye haven’t won a shootout all season (Jesus Wept), they definitely have an advantage with 35 wins. That is more than Florida (33), Greenville (28), and South Carolina (32). The second tiebreaker would be goal differential – the Walleye sport a +25, ahead of Florida (+5), Greenville (+16) and South Carolina (+21).
If the Walleye stay where they are, they’ll meet the Royals in the first round. No thanks. Personally, I’d love for Toledo to face the Cyclones in the first round – a little North Division hatred does the body good.
Blackhawks Prospects Update: Kent Simpson sports a 18-14-2-3 record for the Walleye with .911 SV% and a 2.39 GAA….Ben Youds has 28 points (5G, 23A) and a +9 for the Walleye
The Week Ahead: The final two regular season games for the Walleye take place on the road. The Walleye visit the Fort Wayne Komets on Wednesday, March 27th and finish the season against the Wheeling Nailers on Friday, March 29th. The first possible playoff game for the Walleye would be on Wednesday, April 3rd.
Stats-O-Rama: Willie Coetzee leads the team with 28 goals (8th in the ECHL), 35 assists and 63 total points…Cody Lampl and Aaron Bogosian sport a +17…Kent Simpson leads the Walleye with a 18-14-2-3 record a .911 SV% (6th in the ECHL) and a 2.39 GAA..Aaron Bogosian leads the Walleye with 154 PIMs…Trevor Parkes has 6 PPGs…Coetzee is fourth in the league with 256 SOGs…the Walleye’s power play is 15.2% (18th) and have a 83.1% penalty kill rate (11th)…Toledo is 22nd out of 23 teams, averaging 13.7 PIM per game…The Walleye set a single-season franchise record for attendance, drawing 226,743 fans in 36 home games